The Indian Act – The Bans and the Changes Made in 1951

The Indian Act contains numerous bans, some of which did not disappear until 1951 (see Bans – Traditions). Indeed, it was not until the Second World War and the creation of the UN that changes were made.

Among these changes, the right to vote was gradually accorded to the members of the First Nations. For federal elections, the right to vote was granted in 1960. As far as the provinces were concerned, British Columbia granted it in 1949, Manitoba in 1952, Ontario in 1954, Saskatchewan in 1960, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick in 1963, Alberta in 1965 and Quebec in 1969.

Other bans hindered development in the communities. Indeed, according to Section 1 of the Act to amend the Indian Act, 1880, First Nations were prohibited from selling agricultural products grown on reserves in the Northwest Territories, in the Province of Manitoba and in the District of Keewatin unless authorized by other regulations despite extremely difficult living conditions on the reserves. In 1930, this provision was extended to all First Nations. The ban remained in place until 1951 unless permission was specifically granted.

Section 70 of the Indian Act of 1876 even prohibited First Nations on the Prairies from acquiring land outside of that specified in the treaties signed with the Crown. Section 10 specified that an “Indian” could not possess any land other than one parcel of reserve land, whereas colonizers were granted anywhere from 160 to 320 acres of free land per family.


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